When games get more complex, the notion of balance disappears over the horizon. Swallowed in a writing sea of stats and players, while the developers struggle to keep their ship afloat. Then scurvy comes along and they’re eventually eaten by a whale! Hmm, that analogy got out of hand. Ironfell, a (deep breath) one-man made free MMO strategy game has an interesting idea about balance: it says “phooey”, and hands out resources according to how much you play. The more you’re there, the more you get to help your attempt at world domination. Not a gold-farmer? You can just buy some.
Those concerns probably come after a couple of hours of play, but to begin with it’s not so hostile, placing you on a little spit of land to call your own that no-one can touch. Here you’re free to mine the land a little and play around with your first little unit, sending him to hexes to gather supplies and maybe build rude signposts. It’s cute and slick: the interface is clean, with menus that slide in from the side. I love that. Do more of that, developers. Clicking on players in the chat will let you see what others are up to, which is both a tactical boost and a learning tool. I’ve been watching as others build out, seeing their sprawl engulf the realm.
I’ve not built beyond my own realm, yet. I’m a big scaredy-cat. But if I did, given that the game is willingly “unfair” (it’s in the tagline), I’d probably buy some resources and head off into the promised land of “trading, epic ocean realms, naval battles and castles.” I think those words are probably like a Bat Signal to Adam.
The video below is timelapsey. It is a slow slog, really.
Neatly, you can use your account on a browser, on your PC, on your cool uncle’s Mac, and on Android, so it’s playable pretty much everywhere. If your fridge is somehow running Chrome, I’ll bet you can play it while making a sandwich.